Boat building tools question

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by TheChillPrince, May 22, 2016.

  1. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I completely disagree in that you need nice tools to produce nice work. For a small boat, you don't really need much and most everything can be done by hand.

    A hand saw can do the work of a table, circular or jig saw. An electric drill is damn handy, especially if cordless, but you can use a screwdriver and a brace. Sanders are also wonderful things, but a block of wood with sandpaper wrapped around, it will do too.

    Again, it's not the tools so much as the mind set. As you encounter "issues" with setups, making parts, assemblies, etc., you'll encounter countless "decision points", whereas you'll have to decide how to approuch the issue, with the tools you might have, the access available, shop room, etc. The ability to find a way around these things is the hallmark of a craftsman, regardless of what they're building and the tools they have on hand to do it.

    I've been in the field doing Lord knows how many repairs and though I like to bring enough gear to get something done, you just can't bring the shop, so you make do. I've made on site table saws with a cicularsaw screwed to the bottom of a piece of plywood placed over a couple of sawhorses. I've made a bad saw by clamping a reciprocating saw in a vice and feeding stock through it. This is the "thinking on the fly" I previously mentioned. You have a problem, now how to get passed it so you can tackle the next one, that invariably will crop up. It's literally the nature of the beast. You can buy a fancy plane if you want, but you can also make one in about an hour and you'll be much more proud of it and the work it produces, then any store bought piece. FWIW, my latest home built machine was a spar lathe. It was to replace the previous one that was killed unmercifully by a buddy of mine, trying to turn down a 20' mast. Admittedly, it wasn't the best design, but it worked. The new one can handle a 24' mast, has a variable speed chuck, switches at both ends of the machine and incorporates all the other things I learned from my previous spar lathe. Okay, you don't need a spar lathe, unless you're actively making quite a few masts, booms, etc., but I do, so . . .

    [​IMG]

    A yet completed wooden plane and trust me, it works just as well, assuming you learn how to put an edge on the steel, as the Stanley #4.

    [​IMG]

    You'll find most make things up as they need them, which is because boatbuilders as a rule, are a bunch of brokebastards or more often, just need something slightly different, than what's available at the big box.

    You starter kit should be a reasonable quality power drill and a jig saw. A "DA" sander would be next on the list.
     
  2. TheChillPrince
    Joined: May 2016
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    Location: canada

    TheChillPrince Junior Member

    Thanks for your post's and opinions Par, they were read twice and noted.
     
  3. SukiSolo
    Joined: Dec 2012
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    Location: Hampshire UK

    SukiSolo Senior Member

    I'd agree with PAR, the tools don't need to be expensive but they must work correctly. However not everyone has enough gear to make some of the basic tools so buy a few - but ones well enough made to work properly. If you already know how to get a good cutting edge and how to get tool surfaces flat, your halfway there. To a lot of people setting up an out of true plane and spending some time getting the sole actually flat is fairly demanding. I don't even trust squares till they have been checked - almost all the cheap ones are not properly square... which hardly helps setting things up.

    We all end up modifying things and making bits and pieces to get the job done. Boats seem to demand all kinds of ingenious thinking to solve little construction problems and repairs. In fact I have one right now, but it's an FRP build repair so needs a different solution.

    I actually do use a brace sometimes, you have sweet control compared to a power tool version.
     
  4. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Location: New Orleans

    Stumble Senior Member

    I am convinced that bad tools in a great craftsmanship hand will result in an ok job. The tolerances just aren't there. On the other hand the best tools in a hacks hands will still result in a hack job. The right tools don't make the craftsman, but they can break him.

    But the best tools don't have to be expensive, they just have to be good. So long as a wooden plane is done right it can be as good as any commercial one.
     
  5. whitepointer23

    whitepointer23 Previous Member

    Buy cheap power tools and get what you pay for. Like i posted earlier good quality power tools are much nicer to operate and last a home builder forever.
     
  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I've purchased some really nice tools that had to be trued up, right out of the box. I can also justify buying a dozen cheap 3/8" drills for the cost of a really good one. The same with sanders, saws, etc.

    Learning how to use a tool and keeping it tuned up, is part of the process. A plane is useless until you learn how to put a clean, straight, and reliably sharp edge on the steel. How many just go out and buy new table saw blades, instead of sharpening the teeth? How do you do that (diamond tile saw).

    After years of working on stuff, Nearly every power tool I own has some sort of modification, be this simply modifying the safety features to make them more dangerous, but easy to use to wholesale changes to make them do what I need. Hand tools also get modified. I have about 2 dozen different hammers, from a 15 pound sledge to the tiniest jeweler's tacker. Most have a hole in the handle, so they can be hung on a hook or have a lanyard reeved. I have custom bent screwdrivers and wrenches, pliers with their jaws ground to a specific task. The first O2 sensor I had to change forced me to cut a groove in the side of a perfectly good 7/8" deep well socket and I've used this same socket many times size, just for this purpose. If I was a real jerk, I'd take it back to Sears, for a new one, with complaints of really aggressive rats in my barn.

    My point is you can build a boat with a hatchet, a bucket of goo and some fabric for the seams. The hatchet can be a sharpened rock, tied to a hickory branch and you can mic and smear the goo with a twig from the same tree. It's mind set, ingenuity in problem solving and perseverance that get boats built, so getting by with what you've got is just reality for most. Some can afford FesTool, but I can buy a dozen Porter Cable circular saws, for the cost of a FesTool circular saw. I can buy 2 dozen Black & Decker's and literally have a lifetime supply of fresh, new circular saws if I'm just a backyard boat cobbler. You can cut a straight line with all three brands.
     
  7. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    It is interesting you said that. A river in Florida is called by its Seminole name, Pithlachascotee, meaning "canoe chopping place".

    http://citynpr.org/images/pages/N448/ghs550.jpg
    [​IMG]
     
  8. SukiSolo
    Joined: Dec 2012
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    Location: Hampshire UK

    SukiSolo Senior Member

    I did read about a guy in the UK who turned 2 foot diameter teak poles 24 feet long on a treadle lathe......;) maybe that could make a good spar too...
    The company gave him the lathe when he retired, Im sure he kept his hand in...

    Seems like pretty hard work to me though!
     
  9. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member


    Not good advice for an acknowledged beginner IMHO.

    Power tools can make all the difference to actually finishing a boat, versus it getting put aside for years .

    The biggest bit of advice, is when you get your Jigsaw, make sure it has a support wheel backing the blade. Some of the cheaper ones dont, and it makes for a lot more work and less accuracy.
     

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  10. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Long before jigsaws came to be, lots of small and large boats managed to get built anyway. I agree in theory, inasmuch as good tools can be a pleasure to use, but more importantly make you look like a better wood butcher. A boat can be built without any real tools, other than a knife and a small axe. Some twigs, twine and a covering material, will do. An axe to cut down some saplings, the twine is cut with a pocket knife and you can lash the covering over the bundle of boat shaped sticks.

    A $25 Black and Decker jigsaw now has the blade guide roller.
     
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